Marketing Operations

Marketing departments and professionals are evolving. Just seven years ago seems like a completely different generation in the profession. It’s no longer solely about content, or reach, or bold ads that leap off of the newspaper or magazine page.  

More and more, it’s become a convergence of different channels, a hodgepodge of technologies working together and automated marketing processes generating mountains of data. Marketing operations (MOps) is the term given to this old-but-new discipline which is now charged with making everything work.

Why Do You Need Marketing Operations in the First Place

There are quite a few compelling reasons, but they all boil down to a mandate along the following lines –

Ownership, execution and improvements to the processes (processes being work methods) within your marketing department.

Before you can hire a MOps expert, you’ll need to define the role they’ll fill within your organization. That requires discovery of what their potential responsibilities will cover, the skillset you need to see within candidates, and the areas such an employee might focus on.

Understanding Your Marketing Ops Needs

While the specifics will vary for each company, there is some common ground. Start your exercise by defining:  

  • What is tactical vs. strategic?
  • What requires using a tool or a system? Which tool?
  • What is your department able to do with some help from IT?
  • What tasks can be streamlined into a 1-2-3 process?

Here is what your MOps team will be responsible for:  

MOps Owns the Processes – Your MOps expert should own the processes that run your marketing. By this, we mean the work methods within the marketing department – anything that applies to the “how” of it all.  

MOps Owns Your Tools - Marketing technology (MarTech) has crept into the marketing department to a considerable degree. MOps owns the tools and systems that you’ll use in your demand generation efforts. They should also evaluate new solutions by taking them for a trial run, and decide which are viable options and which are best left alone. Of course, they will also manage licenses and they’ll have to be comfortable working with technology vendors as well as business consulting partners. They must learn to speak quite a few languages and wear a few different hats.  

MOps Sets Expectations – Your MOps team must be able to establish expectations with all stakeholders involved. This can range from marketing and sales leadership to CRM administrators and the sales reps, as well. For example, your technology doesn’t always work as promised so MOps needs to clearly communicate limitations and workarounds required to everyone.  

MOps Constantly Manages and Optimizes the MarTech Stack – How many different solutions are in use by your marketing team? How well do they work together? What changes could be made to streamline campaign execution and enhance efficiency? An MOps expert needs to drive your lead generation machine so they better know how to tune it.  

MOps Is Best Friends with Your Agency – You can’t always do everything alone, so you partner with agency vendors who complement your internal skills. MOps must outline what work is to be done internally and what should be outsourced. Your MOps expert will liaise with your agency partner to execute campaigns on time and on budget, to track performance, value, reach and revenue. Your agency partner should be able to suggest improvements to your processes to improve efficiencies.

What Should MOps Be Focused On?

Amanda Ovenden, Director, Marketing Performance Management, Allocadia from Vancouver, Canada makes a good analogy:

Like a conductor, the Marketing Ops leader keeps the business singing.

The best MOps teams focus on the following areas:  

  • Operations Efficiency and Process Improvement – How quickly and how many steps it takes to execute something impacts everything from overall costs to the ROI on individual campaigns.
  • Operations Scalability – It is a vital consideration to ensure that everything you do can be scaled up or down as your marketing needs change. And make no mistake, they will change! Campaigns must be easily put into templates and quickly reproduced.
  • Data-Driven Decisions – Today, we have more data than we know what to do with. The MOps team makes decisions based on the data collected, constantly runs tests and avoids premises with no proof.

What Skillsets Should You Look For?

What makes a superstar candidate for this sort of position? If you look at how the role is filled in other businesses that are ahead of the curve, you’ll discover a wide range of professional backgrounds, and quite a few skills that apply across the board.  

Outstanding Communication – Most common response. As mentioned earlier, a MOps expert needs to work with different stakeholders in your organization and vendors so clear communication is key. For example, various features of your marketing automation platform have to be presented in the context of how they are relevant for your sales or executives stakeholders. He or she will also need to communicate with others about their roles, responsibilities and set expectations on projects.  

Process Focused – The expert you bring on board needs to be process focused. By focusing on processes, you are constantly documenting 1-2-3 steps and you are constantly determining how to reduce these steps to improve efficiency.  

Detail Oriented – Working hands on with technology and processes demands impeccable attention to details. You can’t miss steps in a process or overlook some aspects of your data.  

Technical Skills and Business Understanding – The ideal MOps expert has a mixed marketing and IT background. As mentioned earlier, automation and increasingly complex technology now underpin marketing, and a MOps expert must have firm data skills, familiarity with CRM, marketing automation tools and systems thinking.   Most importantly, they must articulate how everything helps the business. A MOps expert can determine what technology can pair best with your marketing objectives, which technology should be avoided, and how everything should dovetail to create a seamless whole.  

Maintain Vendor Relationships – You’ll work with any number of technology vendors, including CRM platform vendors, MarTech vendors, agency vendors and data vendors. Your MOps expert must maintain positive relationships with those vendors, establish ongoing dialog and ensure that communication is open, consistent and transparent. MOps is a long-term game, you don’t want to spend your time constantly switching vendors as opposed to focusing on lead generation. Working with the same vendors can bring you discounts and other benefits down the line.

Finding the Marketing Operations Expert You Need

Where do you find MOps experts? There are quite a few places to look for them. For instance, you could bring employees onboard from larger marketing operations departments.  

You might also consider hiring a jack-of-all-digital-trades from a smaller company. Many companies rely on generalists with top level digital marketing skills to execute campaigns, so if they are willing to dive deeper in certain technologies, they could be a good fit for your MOps department. Finally, you can hire consultants to handle these responsibilities on your behalf, which obviates the traditional costs of hiring an employee, and gives you quick access to expertise from a variety of companies.

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